ACHIEVING A BETTER WORK LIFE BALANCE
While we rush around trying to fit more activities into the little time we have, it is often our physical and emotional wellbeing that suffer.
We struggle to reach a state of equilibrium and struggle to prioritise the demands of our career, personal life and other responsibilities.
So, what is work-life balance?
How Do You Balance Your Work and Personal Life as a Social Worker?
Unfortunately, many social workers experiencing poor work life balance often do not even realise it is happening until it is too late.
I know this because I have been in that same position before.
I only realised I had a poor work life balance when I started experiencing serious consequences such as fatigue, which reduced my ability to think clearly and work productively.
The adverse effects of poor work balance also caused stress, which had an effect on my immune system.
Initially, I took some basic steps towards creating a balance in my life such as having enough rest, switching off my phone when my working day was over, and learning to say ‘no’ to certain tasks.
And… I saw some improvement in how I felt.
I felt less exhausted and happy.
I made more changes and established a routine around this.
For example, I started a miracle morning routine to help transform my day.
I stopped working over the weekend.
I took regular breaks at work and took my annual leave, which I spread over the year.
Sometimes, I will take a day off in the middle of the week and this made a tremendous difference to how refreshed I felt.
I stopped chasing toil because I realised they just make me take on more work.
With my working hours set and having a mindset that I will not be working any extra hours for toil, it encouraged me to say ‘no’ to anything that didn’t really need me to do it.
I went a step further to have a work life balance in my life as a social worker by switching off completely from work whilst at home.
I listened to my body and stopped pushing myself too much when I felt tired.
I exercised, had enough rest, switched off my notifications and stopped replying to emails or phone calls out of working hours.
11 Powerful Tips for Better Work-Life Balance
The pressures of life affect the already limited time we have at our disposal, and many of us find ourselves constantly torn between the demands of work as social workers and our personal life.
For instance, we need to take care of our family, earn a living by working, spend quality time with family and friends.
On top of all this, we need to make time for ourselves.
Balancing the needs of work and family should be your priority.
Why Balancing Work and Life Commitments Helps You to be Happy.
In life, there must be harmony and balance.
As the saying goes, a little of what you fancy does you the world of good!
BUT when you spend too much time on one particular part of your life, it can take its toll on you both mentally and physically.
Achieving a good work-life balance is a key component to being happy, and often this can be overlooked and forgotten.
I must admit that social work can be overwhelming and, often, I have dismissed taking care of ‘me’.
Today it often feels impossible to divide our time between work commitments, career aspirations and maintaining a good social life.
Failing to switch off mentally when you finish work can negatively affect your relationships, and spending too much time in the office will probably increase stress levels too!
So, dear reader, join me on this journey as I explore 9 ways to achieve the ultimate work-life balance.
1. Put Things into Perspective to be Happy
Often, people put a lot of time and emotions into issues and problems that aren’t worth the effort.
Feeling stressed or anxious about your social work job is sadly very common and can lead to several health issues.
When you feel yourself overthinking a work commitment or a problem in the office, it’s time to focus on your mental health.
Ask yourself this important question: Do you have the power to fix this problem?
If you can, great, solve the problem when you’re back in work. If you can’t, it’s time to release those negative thoughts and put things into perspective.
Being worried, anxious or stressed over a situation you have no control over is pointless and will stop you from achieving a good work life balance.
2. Accept the Stage of Life You Are in
Erik Erikson was an ego Psychologist who developed the stages of psychosocial development.
In his view, there are 8 stages in the development and growth of humans.
At each stage, people experience a conflict which serves as a turning point in development.
If people can deal with the conflict, they emerge with psychological strengths that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.
BUT if they cannot deal with these conflicts effectively, they may not develop the essential skills required for a strong sense of self.
It is important that we accept life changes.
Sometimes, we will have less time because of changes in our lives.
For instance, when you have young children, studying for a degree or committing to getting rich by being frugal will mean having less time to engage in leisure activities.
There may be little you can do to change your circumstances in times like these.
But learning to accept where you are in life and knowing this is a phase can help you feel less stressed and look forward to the future.
Once you can overcome these stages in life, you will become stronger and more competent.
According to Erikson, a sense of competence motivates positive behaviours and actions.
If a life stage is handled well, a person will feel a sense of mastery (known as ego strength or ego quality).
If managed poorly, a person will emerge with a sense of inadequacy.
3. Minimise Stress & Be Happy
Minimalism is a fantastic way of reducing stress in your life and achieving work life balance.
Removing clutter and chaos from your daily life will make way for newfound energy that will allow your mind to become clearer.
Minimalism also helps you to design each room according to its purpose.
No laptops or work items in the living room, kitchen or bedroom.
By physically dividing your work and home life, you are helping yourself to remember to switch off and enjoy your downtime while at home.
This will also help strengthen your relationships, as you will leave work at the door and have time for your loved ones.
This is a great idea for balancing work and life commitments.
4. Be Happy in What You Do as a Profession
What you do in life will take up significant time.
So remember to do something that allows you to be happy daily.
As the saying goes, when you do what you love, you never work a day in your life.
Doing something you’re passionate about and enjoy will also help you to be more efficient and effective.
People who find it difficult to wake up in the morning and rush to the office, often hate their job.
Read my article on the miracle morning routine for tips on how to transform your day.
Think about your role and if it doesn’t make you happy, it’s time to change.
There are several post qualifying social work courses you can pursue to enhance your skills.
For instance, training to become a Practice Educator, Best Interests Assessor or an Approved Mental Health Practitioner.
Life has a funny way of showing us the right path to take, so listen to your gut and make some changes now.
Time is a precious commodity that you’ll never get back, so use it wisely.
5. Enjoy Each Moment to be Happy
You never know what life has in store for you, so it’s important to enjoy each moment.
Swedish people have a term for this – Lagom (meaning just right).
This idea is that you shouldn’t over-indulge in anything, whether it be work or your social life.
Enjoy just the right amount and no more.
So, when you make breakfast in the morning, smile and be happy.
Don’t rush, give yourself time to make something delicious and nourishing for your body.
Being present in the moment is an important part of achieving a good work life balance.
6. Do Something That Brings You Joy
As a society, we put a lot of energy into our work life.
Waking up early, setting our goals, meeting deadlines and sometimes prioritising client work over our own personal needs.
Why do we not apply this same principle in our social life?
Mental health is very important and social interactions provide us with happiness, relaxation, different outlooks of life and inspiration.
Therefore, doing something with friends or family that brings you joy helps achieve happiness and wellbeing.
Whether you like to practice yoga and meditation or you enjoy having a glass of wine and cooking, never underestimate how important these activities are in your life.
They create memories, friendships and improve mental health and are vital for the ultimate work life balance.
7. Speak Up
If you are feeling down or overwhelmed, share how you feel with friends and family.
In social work, sometimes, your workload might be overwhelming.
When this happens, do not feel you are letting yourself or the team down by expressing how you feel to your manager.
Do not suffer in silence!
8. Make Little Changes
Get help and start making minor changes in your life if you are going through a hard time.
Review what you do on a day-to-day basis and figure out the activity you spend the most time on – could it be shopping, taking most of your time?
Do you spend time window shopping instead of shopping for groceries?
Do you spend too much time washing up?
You could switch to online shopping or use your dishwasher instead of hand washing to save you some time.
9. Focus on Quality Not Quantity
As you only have a little spare time, every second counts!
Get into the habit of using technology wisely.
For instance, a quick telephone call will be better than exchanging text messages constantly the whole day.
Meet up for lunch with friends and have quality conversation, rather than spending hours on the phone.
Turn your car into a University by listening to webinars or educational CD’s when driving to work.
That way, you will develop yourself even though you may not have the time to attend workshops, conferences or enroll on a course.
10. Make Time for your Finances
Staying on top of your finances will make you feel confident.
It can help you stay on top of your bills and save some money.
Get yourself a notepad, an app, or a spreadsheet to help you account for money spent.
My favourite app is iSaveMoney
11. Take a Mini-break
Mini-breaks help improve your overall wellbeing.
A short mini-break can help take your mind off your daily busy schedule.
It can allow you to engage in reflection and mindfulness.
This can result in an improved mindset.
To conclude, in this post I have explored why balancing work and life commitments helps you to be happy.
It is important that as social workers; we set time aside to do things that can bring us joy and minimise stress by engaging in activities we enjoy doing.
Powerful Tips For Better Work-life Balance: Final Thoughts
Well…. that about does it!
What are some of your favourite tips and techniques for achieving an effective work-life balance?
Let me know in the comments below!
The 11 tips for better work-life balance
- Put things into perspective to be happy
- Accept the stage of life you are in
- Minimise stress & be happy
- Be happy in what you do in your profession
- Enjoy each moment to be happy
- Do something that brings you joy
- Speak up
- Make minor changes
- Focus on quality not quantity
- Make time for your finances
I hope you enjoyed this post and look forward to seeing you again 🙂
Thanks for reading this article.
Have you learned a thing or two?
Remember, if you’re finding it hard to manage your work/life balance and you’re worried it’s affecting your physical and emotional wellbeing, then speak to your manager, friend or family soon.
You can also speak to your General Practitioner or call the Samaritans free on 116 123 – you talk, they listen!
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